Dividends paid around the world grew in impressive fashion last year, rising 11% to $1.167 trillion. In terms of growth, the U.S. led the way with $52 billion in increases.
On a regional basis, North American dividends rose 15% to $392 billion, but U.K. firms once again offered excellent dividend growth. Payouts there surged 31% to $135 billion, according to Henderson Global Investors.
With U.K. dividends on the rise and the pound weakening against the U.S. dollar, investors evaluating U.K. equities should consider currency hedged exchange traded funds as avenues for exposure to the U.K. dividend growth story.
The CurrencyShares British Pound Sterling Trust (NYSEArca: FXB) has fallen almost 1% this year, helping the Deutsche X-Trackers MSCI United Kingdom Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBUK) and the WisdomTree United Kingdom Hedged Equity Fund (NasdaqGM: DXPS) each gain more than 5%.
Although DBUK and DXPS are small compared to some of their currency hedged ETF peers, the pair have illustrated the potency of diminishing currency risk with international ETFs at a time of dollar strength. Both ETFs have outpaced the iShares MSCI United Kingdom ETF’s (NYSEArca: EWU) year-to-date and over the past year. [Don’t Forget These Currency Hedged ETFs]
A significant chunk of U.K. dividends are paid by the largest members of the benchmark FTSE 100. Although neither DBUK nor DXPS are FTSE 100 tracking ETFs, the funds do offer substantial exposure to the index’s most prominent dividend payers.
For example, DBUK devotes a combined 12.5% of its weight to Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) and BP (NYSE: BP), which like American rivals Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX), have been able to dodge dividend reductions even as oil prices have stumbled. [Sterling Slippage Helps These ETFs]